UFC fans in the UK and Ireland will be able to watch the promotion’s next two EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) fight cards free after a deal was announced this afternoon with Sky channel Pick, a free-to-air digital channel.
Both UFC Fight Night 64 from Krakow, Poland, on April 11th and UFC Fight Night 69 from Berlin, Germany, on June 20th will be broadcast by Pick, which is available on Sky (channel 152), Freeview (11), Freesat (144) and Virgin Media (123), and also on UPC (133) in Ireland.
The deal does not mean the UFC have ended their relationship with mainstay UK broadcaster BT Sport. That deal runs through for another 18 months. However, it doesn’t include the EMEA Fight Night series of live events.
David Allen, senior vice president and general manager UFC EMEA, told Fighters Only: “The BT Sport deal is very much still in place and runs until June 2016, but the Fight Night series was never part of that deal.
“Last year those events were sold separately to BT Sport, but that was only a one-year contract and we were always interested in securing a free-to-air channel for these Fight Night cards.”
He adds: “We’re thrilled that Pick have secured the rights to these events and that, through them, fans in the UK and Ireland can watch two amazing UFC events via free to air TV. This is an exciting partnership and continues to expand the reach of our programming to new audiences.”
Intriguingly, Pick is part of the Sky family of channels. Originally launched as Sky Three, it’s mainly used as a testing area by Sky for programmes and TV series they are looking to test the public’s reaction.
This also explains why both fight cards will actually be shown on tape delay, after the watershed. Screening will commence with both Fight Night events’ main cards only, starting on Pick at 11pm locally. Any undercard prelims will feature in the region on UFC Fight Pass.
Naturally, the UFC believe having the events on free TV will attract bigger numbers to the fights, and thus more carry over to the pay TV cards. And the Krakow card features two of the UK’s premier athletes which should also help.
Both London’s own light heavyweight contender Jimi ‘Poster Boy’ Manuwa, who takes on Polish star Jan Blachowicz in the co-main event, and Scottish strawweight star Joanne Calderwood, who aims to secure herself a world title shot on home soil in the summer with a victory, feature on the main card.